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By Samson Komati

JIWAKA Ecumenical Womens Federation Chair lady Alis Melpa speaking to a big gathering at Banz Town  Picture: MAL TAIME, Post Courier

JIWAKA Ecumenical Womens Federation Chair lady Alis Melpa speaking to a big gathering at Banz Town Picture: MAL TAIME, Post Courier

PRESS STATEMENT

From: Concerned Community Leaders in Mt. Hagen Urban & Mt. Hagen Rural LLG in WHP

Addressed to: Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea & Chairman of National Executive Council (NEC)

Subject: Failed LLG Elections in Mt. Hagen Urban & Mt. Hagen Rural LLG by PNG Electoral Commissioner

Dear Prime Minister,

We bring to your attention in your capacity and powers as Prime Minister and Chairman of NEC to hear our open call regards the failure of 19 LLG wards in Highlands Region but particularly the Mt. Hagen Rural & Mt. Hagen Urban LLG Wards.

Today, concerned individuals have blocked off the Highlands Highway at Tega Village in WHP stopping normal flow of traffic into and out of Mt. Hagen City. Also, the Kagamuga International Airport has been blocked off from all incoming and outgoing flights from all airline companies. The PNG Power station at Dobel has switched off the power supply to residents in WHP and water supply into Mt Hagen City has also been stopped. This is the beginning of a chain of events culminating out of public frustrations building over in Mt. Hagen, let alone other LLGs, over the failed LLG elections by the PNG Electoral Commissioner last week.

We speak for Mt Hagen Urban and Mt Hagen Rural LLG as concerned educated citizens who have witnessed and observed the election process in the Western Highlands Province. Here are some of our points for your immediate attention and consideration:

1. The PNG Electoral Commissioner has failed to consult the Provincial Elections Steering Committee (PESC) regards the situation on the ground BEFORE making his decision to fail the LLG Elections in WHP and Highlands Region. We believe the Electoral Commissioner’s decision to fail the LLG Elections was premature, isolated, and misinformed.

2. The PNG Electoral Commissioner has failed to consult the Provincial Police Commander in WHP regards any form of violence, troubles, or destruction to LLG Elections in WHP prior to making his decision to fail the LLG Elections.

3. The widespread frustrations in WHP is caused by the Electoral Commissioner in failing the LLG Elections has therefore caused individuals to block off the Highlands Highway, Kagamuga International Airport, water and power supply, mass chaos and imminent looting everywhere. This could not have happened if the Electoral Commissioner exercised his wisdom and common sense.

4. In our collective opinion, the 2012 General Elections featured many problems than the 2013 LLG Elections. Why does the Electoral Commissioner feel obliged to fail this LLG Elections when he never failed 2012 General Elections based on its myriad of problems?

5. About 80% of the LLG Elections in WHP have been complete, only 20% is remaining to be formally completed by the provincial election officials. Why did the Electoral Commissioner seen fit to fail an election when it was under progress? Never in the history of Papua New Guinea where an Electoral Commissioner failed any election during its peak progress.

6. About 80% of LLG Wards in WHP have elected new councilors in the 2013 LLG Elections and have been declared by provincial election officials. What will happen to them now? They cannot stand for the same election again given limited financial resources and other potential associated problems. They also cannot go into another election hoping that the results will be the same.

7. The Electoral Commissioner has just set a dangerous precedent in Papua New Guinea because he has by-passed his own Provincial Elections Steering Committee (PESC) in WHP and received information or misinformation from other or outside sources which led to failing the LLG Elections.

8. To fail an election and then call another election; will that be fair to all? What guarantee that it will be safe and fair in a by-election? Most or all the candidates are poor community leaders and for them to re-run in an election because it was failed is troublesome.

9. Why did the Electoral Commissioner allowed the counting to proceed when he knew that he would fail the LLG Elections eventually? He could have saved money, time, and other resources if he failed the elections early. Why fail an election when it’s almost complete? This is very questionable on the part of the Electoral Commissioner and we therefore think he should (a) repay all LLG Ward candidates of the financial resources, (b) repay the total cost of the by-election, and (c) repay all business houses including Air Niugini in millions of kina losses incurred thus far.

10. We totally do not condone anything criminal done by individuals in WHP in their frustration to close down the airport, water supply, power supply, and Highway in Mt. Hagen. However, we sympathize with

ALL our people who are frustrated because of the premature, isolated, and misinformed decision of the

Electoral Commissioner which failed LLG Elections.

RECOMMENDATION:

1. We therefore recommend the Prime Minister to intervene and take control of this imminient chaotic situation and make a decision in order to safeguard everyone from economic loss and social destruction in in WHP and Highlands Region.

2. We therefore recommend to the Prime Minister, in his wisdom, not to listen to any advices given by current or former politicians of Western Highlands regards LLG Elections as they may have their own politician interests.

Concerned Community Leaders are:

Max Kumbamong, Michael Makap, James Yoka, Ekip Nelson Tengei, Samson Komati, Robert Puri, Dokta Maip, David Yak, John Bori

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